Honda's CR-V has been around for ages and continues to evolve nicely. In fact, this new version is the nicest I've driven in at least a couple of generations. Honda has, indeed, really gotten it together with this new model.
It's also the first generation of CR-V in which Honda makes a hybrid version available, a version I got to drive over the Christmas season and which – other than its extreme weather performance (which is definitely not a uniquely Honda issue) actually appealed to me more than the non-hybrid "Sport" version that's the subject of this particular rant. And I may be risking a lightning strike on my head by admitting that I preferred a hybrid to a "regular" vehicle.
Part of that is because hybrids have come a long way from being the gutless pieces of crap of days gone by. Now, you need not necessarily compromise your right foot's enjoyment to save some money on gas.
Another part is that my review gas-powered CR-V was of somewhat a lower trim level than the hybrid, so it was missing some of the features I loved on the hybrid – for example, the wonderful rear camera washer that absolutely blew me away.
I also found the gas-only engine a tad underwhelming, even though it sports a turbo. More on that later. more...
Honda fans who've been pining for a hybrid version of the venerable CR-V SUV/Crossover can now breathe more easily, as the Japanese carmaker has introduced such a beast with the new, sixth generation version.
And it's a peach, a lovely vehicle to drive and to live with, and my complaints can only amount to nit picks against this terrific ride – something I've been loathe to say about recent Honda generations with their annoying "safety" nannies that beat you over the head with themselves.
No more! Well, more about this later…
Meanwhile, this CR-V – which Honda Canada kindly allowed me to drive over the Christmas season – delivers a hybrid experience that's not only efficient, but even fun to drive!
Just don't expect it to go quietly into the deep-frozen night!
I say that because the CR-V Touring hybrid (the vehicle's top Canadian trim level) absolutely freaked out when the temperatures dropped to the -30C range in late December. And I couldn't blame it one bit: I freaked out at the temperatures, too. more...
Looking for a mid-sized SUV/Crossover thingy that boasts Honda quality and reliability, yet can still take you off the road if you want?
Perhaps you should check out the 2023 Passport, which Honda slots between the three row Pilot (a supposedly all-new version of which is coming as well) and the "compact SUV" CR-V. There's also the even smaller HR-V, for those who something even more diminutive, and I reviewed it recently here, liking it quite a bit despite its continuously variable transmission.
Here with the Passport, however, we get a more traditional vehicle – a V6-powered model that uses an honest to goodness automatic transmission, in this case a nine-speed one.
That's enough goodness to start with: the 3.5 litre Direct Injection, i-VTEC V6 puts out 280 horses and 262 lb.-ft of torque going to the road via 20-inch wheels (on the Touring trim level; others get 18 inches) guided by Honda's "Intelligent Variable Torque Management AWD system". That's enough for such a mainstream vehicle and the Passport uses it well.
The all-wheel drive is cool to watch in action, which you can do via the instrument panel display. It shows clearly that this front-wheel-biased vehicle does, indeed, send the torque to the rear wheels – either individually or in tandem, thanks to the torque vectoring – and you can feel it work as well. I drove the Passport when the roads were quite snowy and the system worked beautifully.
I also found Honda's Intelligent Traction Management System worked quite well. This is operated via a switch on the centre console and offers normal, snow, mud and sand settings. Snow, which I used quite a bit during my week with the Passport, basically is like throwing out an anchor behind the vehicle as its performance is scaled back to reflect better the slippery conditions of winter driving.
Despite this, you can still fool it into having a bit of fun sliding if you so desire. more...
Honda's smallest SUV/Crossover thingy is back with an all-new set of clothes and other new features, and while its new look may be a tad generic, it's a very nice vehicle that should compete well in its market niche.
Honda says the new HR-V features "aspirational qualities beyond its segment," whatever the heck that means, appealing to "young, active buyers" thanks to its "stylish, sporty exterior and roomy, feature-rich interior." Perhaps, though I think its new "stylish, sporty exterior" is less Honda-like (I liked the outgoing version's exterior styling better, because it was less generic and more "Honda-like" than the new one, which at a quick glance could almost be mistaken for a Ford Escape).
Still, as I've said many times, beauty in a vehicle's styling is in the eye of the key holder, and I do think this new one may appeal to new buyers anyway because, however you slice it, it's still an attractive and pleasant and efficient vehicle that will probably serve its customer base extremely well.
HR-V's now come with standard digital instrumentation, a larger and more responsive engine, and new suspension design that helps add some quite "Mazda-like" fun-to-drive to the occasion – even though it's saddled with the type of continuously variable transmission that can suck the fun out of nearly any drive.
At the mechanical heart of the HR-V, or "Harvey" as I like to call it, is two-litre four-cylinder engine Honda says produces 158-horsepower @ 6,500 rpm and 138 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4,200 rpm. That's compared to the outgoing generation's 1.8-litre four banger and its 17 fewer horses and 11 fewer torquey thingies. Not a huge difference, but it works okay (though I'd have liked to see more acceleration), and Honda says the new engine also delivers better drivability, refinement, and lower emissions. more...
Honda's Ridgeline, Black Edition, is the top trim level of Honda's pickup truck, and it continues the company's tradition of offering an unconventional, car-based choice in a market dominated by "body on frame" trucks.
It must be working, because after over a decade of being alone in the marketplace, the Ridgeline is finally getting some competition for your pickup truck budget: Ford's Maverick and Hyundai's Santa Cruz. I haven't driven either, but I've driven the Ridgeline several times, in both of its generations, and have always liked it a lot.
Oh, it suffers from the Honda-isms that drive me nuts these days (stick around and I'll whine about them yet again), but on the whole it's a great vehicle – a modern-day interpretation, you could say, of such oldies but goodies as the Rancheros and El Caminos. Except it's also a real truck rather than just a two-seat car with a bed.
Now, I'm not a pickup truck guy and never will be, which may be one of the reasons I like the Ridgeline: it's more of a car/SUV than a traditional truck. Think Honda Pilot with a bed. That means that, unlike the old Rancheros et al, you get seating for five. It also means that, unlike traditional pickup trucks, you still get a real, live trunk – and a lockable one at that. In this case, it's in the bed, back near the tailgate.
There isn't a lot that's new about the 2022 model compared to 2021, but there were many changes and upgrades last year and the only things I could think of for them to upgrade would be the nannies and other stuff I've grown to hate about a car company whose products I have traditionally loved. Things like no tuning knob for the audio system and an LCD screen on the centre stack that's busy, hard to fathom, and insensitive enough to the touch of a human finger that I mulled bringing in a ball peen hammer to help. more...
It's getting to be hard finding a manual transmission these days, and that's a real shame. But Honda is riding to the rescue with a stick version of their new Civic – in some versions, anyway – and it's a wonderful thing to use even if it isn't the best stick Honda has made.
Part of the reason I love a manual is that it not only gives you better control over the vehicle, it also helps make you part of the process of driving, making you pay attention to what you're doing (theoretically, anyway). If you love driving, this can be a big deal. If a vehicle is just transportation to you, you may not care – and you may even prefer not having to shift it yourself.
That's fine; to each, his/her/its own.
Another reason to love a stick is because it's very handy when the roads get less than optimal – via snow, rain or whatever. You can use the transmission for the most part, rather than the brakes, on slippery roads and that helps prevent the wheels from locking up (when you hit the brakes) and causing a slide or a skid.
Alas, the majority of consumers appear to prefer going through life in a rather shiftless manner, and so manual transmissions are an endangered species.
So, thank you, Honda, for preserving the manual transmission – especially since the alternative in the Civic line is a damn CVT, one of those continuously variable transmissions that don't shift at all (even a conventional automatic does shift) and which in the process sucks a good amount of the "joie de conduire" from the process. more...
It looks pretty new inside and out and it sports a lot of things to love. And it'll probably become a top selling sedan in a marketplace increasing eschewing such sedans as folks seek out SUV's instead.
It's the 2022 Honda Civic, a really nice new entry in the long line of Civics. And I liked it a lot, Honda-isms that I've whined about in recent years notwithstanding. Even with my Honda-ism angst, I think this new generation Civic is terrific, and I can't wait to see what Honda does with the hot versions that are sure to follow.
The new styling on the outside makes the Civic look more aggressive – and dare I say fun? – than the outgoing model I reviewed a while back. It's still inoffensive enough to not frighten away folks who just want a car rather than a racing vehicle, but the new look is terrific, especially after some of the recent Civics with their heavily creased bodywork that made them look as if they were designed by a committee of the blind. This one is, if nothing else, much more subtle.
The rear end looks great, too, with attractive taillights and a clean design.
Honda says the new Civic was designed to reduce noise "for a calmer ride" and this includes such things as a sculpted roof and streamlined door handles. A new headlight design includes standard LED's and the trunk now features one-handed operation. You can also order LED fog lights and LED signal lights integrated into the outside mirrors.
The new Civic can be ordered with one of two "Earth Dreams" four-cylinder engines. The base one is a two-litre version with 158 horsepower; the more interesting one, which came on the Touring version that was Honda's sample, is a 1.5-litre turbocharged, direct-injected engine that cranks out 180 hp. That may not seem like a lot in an era where you can get 700 horses or more, but it's competitive in this market niche and perfectly adequate for this car. More than adequate, in fact. more...
The Honda Ridgeline is an interesting beast, a mid-sized SUV crossed with a pickup truck's DNA to offer what Honda thinks is the best of both worlds – the utility of a truck with the comfort and capabilities of a two row SUV.
In short, a true crossover, if you permit me the use of that term for what isn't really an SUV. And as such, it has occupied a unique niche in the vehicular market since it was introduced back around 2006. It must be working, because Hyundai and Ford are throwing their corporate hats into the niche with their upcoming Santa Cruz and Maverick which, like the Ridgeline, are unibody trucks rather than full body on frame ones as you'll find with pretty well all of the competition.
It's a pretty neat vehicle, too, if you don't need the robustness and capacity of a "real" truck. And it also offers some nifty features you can't find on other trucks regardless of their size, configuration, and capabilities.
For example, the Ridgeline comes not only with a bed for carrying your truck-like needs, it also has a trunk built into that bed, a trunk that locks and therefore lets you store stuff you don't want stolen from the bed while you're in the mall. Assuming that stuff fits into the trunk, of course.
That trunk can also be filled with ice and beer for those times you're tailgating or picnicking. It's pretty cool. more...
It may have started life as basic transportation, an affordable alternative to the Big Three's coupes and sedans of the 1970's, but since then the Honda Civic has grown up in every way. And now that it's in the process of being replaced by a new generation, this classic family car could offer you some deals if you can still find any on a Honda lot.
Note that I said "could" rather than "will." Kind of like COVID COULD kill 90 per cent of the population but probably WILL not. You'll have to do your own homework here (including looking for lease returns) and not just trust some guy with a word processor. Even if he's me!
Anyway, Honda Canada sent the Touring version of the sedan, a car that's much more attractive and straightforward-looking than some of its other, bumpy and bulbously creased versions. I hated those Civics, if only for their looks (though Honda has some other issues I'll address below), but ever since the 1976 Civic hatchback my wife and I owned back then (or perhaps before) it has always been a very good car, efficient and reliable.
And surely that's what's important to many people. more...
Three row SUV's are a common sight these days, whether from mainstream or luxury names, and some are much better than others.
This isn't surprising, of course; some things are better than others in any field. My beloved Calgary Stampeders are tops when it comes to regular season performance in the Canadian Football League, for example, whereas the damn Toronto Argonauts seem to have the number of most teams when they actually make it to the final. It's really annoying.
So if you're looking for a three row SUV, you don't have to look very hard. In mainstream trim, you can find them from Mazda, Toyota, Hyundai, Kia, Volkwagen, etc. etc. etc. And in this niche, Honda offers the Pilot, which is a decent vehicle based upon the company's high end Acura division's MDX. And that's a pretty good place to start!
Vehicles such as this make a decent choice for people who think they need a minivan but who would rather be torn apart by wild dogs than drive one. They have nearly as much room and in general drive much more nicely than the typical minivan does – though such folk really ought to try the current Toyota Sienna if they want a minivan that doesn't really drive like one.
The Pilot comes only in an all-wheel drive configuration in Canada, and all versions get most of the same underpinnings. This includes a 3.5 litre V6 engine Honda says puts out 280 horsepower @ 6000 rpm and 262 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4700 rpm. These are decent figures and competitive, though I must admit that V6 felt very much like a turbo four according to my experience. In fact, it felt a tad anemic compared to a turbo four-equipped Ford Explorer I'd driven shortly before that – which isn't surprising since the Ford offers more horses and torque from its 2.3 litre EcoBoost four. more...
Honda's CR-V has been around nearly as long as the so-called "cute ute" market niche and, as is Honda's wont, there's a lot to like about it.
But is the Sport version really sporty?
Nope. And that's a shame because, other than the "sportiness gap" it's a pretty nice vehicle in its own right, Honda-isms notwithstanding.
The good stuff starts with a 1.5 litre turbocharged four banger Honda says puts 190 horsepower @ 5600 rpm and 179 @ 2000-5000 lb.-ft. of torque @ rpm. Hardly world-shattering figures, but competitive in this niche: the current Toyota RAV4's 2.5 litre "non-turbo" four-cylinder engine is rated at 203 HP, while Mazda's CX-5 puts out 187/186 hp/torque, for example.
Alas, Honda has chosen to inflict a continuously variable transmission onto the CR-V and it's enough to suck any potential sportiness out of the equation. It's typical of the species, in that it's loud and whiny and tends to make it feel as if you're driving a vehicle powered by an elastic band rather than a real, live (well, not really alive…) automatic transmission, of which there are many good examples these days.
Making it worse is the lack of paddle shifters to help at least make the CR-V's CVT pretend to be a conventional manual like some other CVT's do. In fact, there's no sport or manual mode at all other than a "S" setting on the shift selector, which does little (if anything) to impart a sporty feel. more...
The Honda Insight may not be a household name, but the original version was a ground-breaking vehicle in that it was the first "mainstream" hybrid vehicle offered for sale in North America.
That car was an underwhelming achievement, however, a little two-seater that looked like a squashed ladybug and boasted the acceleration of a bicycle (okay, I may be exaggerating a bit). It was focused clearly on saving gas, with the driving experience secondary (if the designers thought about it at all!). Heck, its performance was such that when I reviewed one back around the turn of the century, my wife and I drove it to the Columbia Icefields in the Rocky Mountains and on some of the steeper hills it almost felt as if we should get out and push.
That said, the car was fine as a commuter vehicle as long as you didn't mind getting your doors blown off by pedestrians and not having much room for groceries.
The second generation was a nicer vehicle, but compared to the number of Prii I see on the roads around here, that Insight didn't set the market on fire, either.
This third "in-car-nation" may not turn out to be Honda's better mousetrap either, but of all the Insights so far, it's easily the nicest in which to spend some time behind the wheel. more...
Honda's line of utility vehicles is pretty full already – with three SUV/Crossovers and the Ridgeline pickup truck – but Honda has discovered a hole in the team that's apparently big enough to fit a larger vehicle.
Not its largest model however. That would be the Pilot still, with the brand new Passport fitting into the line between it and the compact CR-V. That still leaves the little HR-V to occupy the "entry level" niche in Honda's utility line.
Honda Canada's sample Passport wore the top-end Touring badge (and came with all the extra goodies the badge indicates) and that meant it carried a retail price of approximately $50,916 Canadian, not including extras (though there aren't a lot of extras with the Touring version other than stuff like a towing package, lighting package, cold weather package, etc.). That's nearly 10 grand more than the base Passport, which is probably still a pretty nifty vehicle in this niche.
An interesting fact is that, according to Honda Canada's website, the base Passport starts at exactly the same as the base Pilot which comes with an extra row of occasionally usable seats. Still, the shorter Passport may be a tad easier to park, and possibly a bit more frugal on gas (though its mechanicals are pretty well the same as the Pilot's, it weighs a bit less: 1,890 kg for the base Passport vs. 1932 for the base Pilot). On the other hand, if you don't care about saving gas, you might find the Passport a little bit more fun to drive, thanks to its slightly smaller footprint and lighter weight. more...
The Honda Accord, all-new for 2018, provides substantial evidence that the Japanese carmaker does indeed listen to its customers (and maybe critics, too!). That's because, after a few years of making vehicles that are nearly as annoying as they are pleasant, the new Accord is a lovely breath of fresh air.
I used to love Hondas and always looked forward to driving them. Then the company seemed to go off the rails, doing things that defied logic (as defined by me, anyway) such as removing the volume and tuning knobs from the audio system, forcing you to use a touch screen that wasn't particularly usable – especially while the vehicle was in motion, even if you could figure out the interface.
Then there were the nannies, such as the voice that admonished you to do up your seat belt even if you're undoing it upon arrival at home, at a speed of about two kilometres per hour (not that I ever actually measured the speed), or flashed BRAKE!!! at you because it thinks you're about to rear end someone even if you have things well under control.
Then there's the styling. Take a look at that new Civic. I rest my case. more...
It's loud. It's whiny. Its interfaces are incoherent. But it'll help you save the world, and you might be able to make other people help you pay for it!
It's Honda's new Clarity, in this case a plug-in hybrid model. Honda calls it the newest member of their "completely redesigned lineup," even though it sports exactly the same dashboard abomination – as in no knobs for tuning the stereo or tuning the volume up or down - that the company is finally moving away from with its new Accord and other models.
Claritys (Clarities?) start at a Canadian MSRP of $39,900 and if you want to step up to the top line version – the Touring trim level – it'll cost you and/or your peers $43,900 (your peers, according to Honda, thanks to "up to $13,000 of government incentives"). For that price you'll get what Honda says is "a big step forward for the company's electrified fleet, entering the Canadian market with the best overall combined range and interior volume in its class."
How's that for clarity? more...
It may be a bad pun, but the headline above is a good piece of advice if you're one of the people thinking about making the move to a new minivan.
I'm not a minivan guy at all - my wife wanted one when our kids were sized and had lifestyles that were "minivan friendly" but I always managed to stave it off, until now they're long-married and on their own and a minivan is even less of a necessity for empty nesters. But I understand and laud the minivan as perhaps the ultimate in family-and-their-stuff hauling (at least until the three row SUV came along) and I've driven enough of them over the years to appreciate their utility, if not their fun.
Alas, the Odyssey isn't quite as interesting to drive as the Chrysler Pacifica, but - if only because it's a Honda - it may be a better vehicle overall, especially over the life of its service (Hondas, indeed most Japanese vehicles, are legendary in this regard - and the last Odyssey I reviewed got rear ended but was still eminently driveable once the first responders had pried off its rear bumper and stowed it inside).
It has some pretty cool stuff in this new, fifth generation version, too, stuff that makes it more like a science fiction-type shuttlecraft than a plain vanilla people hauler. more...
It may not be back completely but, as evidenced by the newly redesigned 2018 Honda Accord, it looks as if the honoured Japanese carmaker is back on track. Or at least well on the way.
I've been particularly vociferous about my Honda angst in recent years. The company makes terrific cars - and they still do, for the most part - but somewhere along the way between adding all the new drivers' aids and pursuing ever more strict fuel economy mandates the company seemed to lose its way.
They also seemed to have fired some of their great designers of the past, as evidenced by the current generation Civic, one of the ugliest cars on the road today in any of its in-car-nations. I realize that beauty is in the eye of the key holder, and Honda's sales don't seem to have suffered a whit just because I've been poking at them with a pointy stick but, to me, the company seems to have been sucked into a styling rut in recent years.
As I wrote in my review of the Civic Coupe in March of this year: "…there's something awry about today's Honda and it really has me scratching my head. Civics have always been cute, or at least inoffensive, but this current (tenth) generation - which includes sedan and coupe versions as well as this new hatch - is bloody ugly." I did also note, however that "Honda is only one of the Japanese carmakers currently over styling their vehicles (some Lexus and Nissan models come to mind as well), but the new Civics are full of creases and bulges that look almost as if it were designed by a committee of people who never spoke to each other."
Methinks they may have started hanging out with each other again, however, because this new Accord, while not nearly as attractive as the one it's replacing, is a big step forward from the dumpy Civic and Accords of a couple of generations ago. more...
Does Honda's mid-cycle refresh of its little Fit mean the car's a little Fitter now?
Indeed. The Fit is a good little car - despite the Honda-isms of the company's current line that continuously drive me crazy - and Honda has indeed made it even better than before. They've even returned the volume control knob to the centre stack, proving that they either do listen to their critics or that they've actually started driving their own products for a change.
Once upon a time Honda's entry level vehicle in North America was the Civic, but as that popular and iconic car grew it re-opened the niche it occupied originally, creating room for a newer, smaller model to, well, fit in there.
This growing of segments is, of course, not unique at Honda at all. For example - and this is only one of many such examples - Toyota's smallest offering in North America was the Corolla many years ago, but over time it grew as well, making room for the Tercel (then the Echo and the Yaris). And so the market goes.
So the Honda Fit fits in this "entry level" niche, going against such vehicles as the abovementioned Yaris, as well as the Nissan Versa, Hyundai Accent and the brand new Kia Rio - and more. How does it fit? Quite well. more...
One's a truck that drives like an SUV; the other is an SUV that drives like a truck. Which one makes more sense?
Naturally, it depends on the task at hand. If you're looking for a small pickup truck that rides like more a car, the Honda Ridgeline is the clear choice. But if you want a brawny adventurer that'll be as comfortable off the asphalt as it is inside the city, the Toyota 4Runner is the winner.
And never will the twain meet, except perhaps in this column.
Honda's new Ridgeline - in the "Black Edition" livery of this review - is built on the same basic platform as the company's big SUV, the Pilot and, while it'll probably be fine for many off road excursions, it's more of a city folk vehicle than a backwoods brawler.
On the other hand, Toyota's 4Runner - in the "TRD PRO" livery of Toyota Canada's sample - is a tough off roader that shares DNA with the Tacoma pickup truck. And it's happy to bounce you along the paved roads before devouring happily its natural element, the great outdoors. more...
You could look at it as a return to form, an extra reason to give Honda's classic Civic a look if you're in the market for a mainstream car. And it is, somewhat, because Honda offered hatchback Civics in Canada for many years.
Alas, this isn't Civics of old and, as great as it is in so many ways, it's still a current Honda and that means it may drive you nuts as you drive.
There's something awry about today's Honda and it really has me scratching my head. Civics have always been cute, or at least inoffensive, but this current (tenth) generation - which includes sedan and coupe versions as well as this new hatch - is bloody ugly. And frustrating. Now, I realize that beauty is in the eye of the beer holder, and Honda is only one of the Japanese carmakers currently over styling their vehicles (some Lexus and Nissan models come to mind as well), but the new Civics are full of creases and bulges that look almost as if it were designed by a committee of people who never spoke to each other.
And that's just the exterior problems! more...
Maybe Honda is listening to its critics because this new CR-V is a nice step back toward Hondas of old, Hondas that weren't just great vehicles, but which didn't really annoy their owners at the same time.
I've been one of those critics over the past few years, though I can't imagine a small potatoes guy like me being responsible for Honda moving back toward the light - but it's sure good to see.
The first indication of a potential turnaround in Honda's attitude is the return of a volume control knob to the centre stack of the new CR-V SUV/Crossover. The second is that the new CR-V is actually quite a handsome vehicle, much nicer than its predecessor. And that's a great start. more...
Honda's odd-looking pickup truck of old is gone, replaced by a new generation - its second - that brings a much more conventional demeanour to the marketplace.
And other than some "Honda-isms" that mar an otherwise great interior, it could be the perfect choice for people who need a pickup truck sometimes, but whose hauling needs aren't heavy duty and who prefer the driving feel of a n SUV or crossover to that of a "regular" truck.
Part of the reason for that different feel from other pickups is because the Ridgeline isn't a "regular" pickup truck at all. It features a unibody, er, body, which is more like today's cars and SUV's than the "body on frame" construction of the garden variety pickup. This makes the Ridgeline feel more like a Honda Pilot than, say, a Toyota Tacoma, and there's nothing wrong with that. In fact, as a "not a truck guy" kind of guy, I'd look to the Ridgeline before any other pickup truck on the market if I ever needed to buy a truck.
Well, except for the Honda-isms the company still hasn't figured out. more...
"Half the doors. Twice the fun." That's how Honda Canada's website describes the new Civic Coupe and it's a pretty decent description of the newest version of the award-winning Civic.
It's still over styled and has annoying interfaces, but I agree with Honda that the coupe provides a lovely helping of the fun to drive factor that can make small cars such a blast - and which the new sedan version lacks. It's a Honda that feels more like Hondas of old, and that's great.
According to Honda Canada, virtually everything about the 2016 Civic Coupe is new. It "sports" a new architecture, a new interior (though it's pretty much like the new sedan's) and new exterior styling. It looks better from inside than out, thanks to Honda's decision to add creases and stuff to the exterior. Its bum looks particular chubby, but that seems to be a common thing in today's society, and I'm not talking about cars… more...
The HR-V is a handsome little thing. And despite its location at the low end of the market, it appears quite classy.
Harvey gets his motivation from a 1.8 litre four banger rated at 141 horses/127 torque, which is fine in this segment. Power comes on well, though as is typically Japanese, it likes the higher revs. Honda rates Harvey's base front wheel drive configuration at 9.3/7.0/8.3 litres/100 km/h (city/highway/combined).
So far so good. But that four banger gets its power to the wheels (front wheel drive is standard but Honda Canada's sample came with the optional all-wheel drive system) through a continuously variable transmission and with a few exceptions, they're loud and annoying and, since they don't shift gears (there are no gears), they change the driving experience substantially, and not for the better.
That's what we have here, in Harvey. Strangely, the Accord Touring has a CVT as well, but I didn't hate it nearly as much. Of course the Accord is bigger and more robust and undoubtedly has more sound insulation, which may account for the difference. more...
Honda's all-new Civic is being received with plenty of fanfare, has already scooped some prestigious awards (including Canadian Car of the Year) and appears poised to continue the company's long history of success with the model. But is it as good as the hype is making it appear?
I may be a voice barking in the wilderness (what else is new?), but put me down as one for whom the new model isn't the wundercar it's being made out.
There's a reason why people love the Civic: traditionally, it has offered among the best value for dollar, as well as being a simply great little car.
So why does the new version leave me cool toward it? It's the little things. more...
Honda's full sized Pilot has received a major upgrade for 2016, and for the most part it's a fine one. Gone is the boxy Pilot of old, replaced by a handsome and modern SUV that's fully featured and up to date. Heck, it's almost like a lower end Acura MDX - which should surprise no one.
Honda Canada's sample Pilot was of the Touring trim level, and it was loaded with just about everything you could think of including a middle row LCD entertainment system with an honest-to-goodness Blu-ray player feeding audio and/or video to it from the centre stack up front. Blu-ray may be overkill for a vehicle, since most of the LCD screens I've seen won't exploit it properly - and even if they can they're so small the HD picture may be wasted - but if nothing else it means you can bring along all your video library and the Pilot will play it. more...
The Honda Fit is a great little car – inexpensive and decent to drive. Unfortunately, it has also been tweaked for 2015 in a manner sure to bother its front seat passengers, if not its drivers.
The Fit has been around for several years now and fills a niche opened up for Honda as the once-entry-level Civic grew in size and features. This is hardly unique to Honda, of course; you could also look at the Toyota Yaris as a response to the Corolla's inevitable growth, and that's only one other example.
So you might think that driving a Fit is reminiscent of driving an old Civic – and you'd be right to a certain extent. more...
By the time I was finished with the CR-V I ended up wondering if the late Soichiro Honda could be spinning in his mausoleum (or wherever he is) because this CR-V seems to be a step backwards for the company he founded more than half a century ago.
On the other hand, the 2015 CR-V was recently named SUV of the year by the folks at Motor Trend magazine, so either they're nuts or I am. Naturally, I prefer to think it's them.
The CR-V has traditionally been a terrific vehicle, nice to drive and with Honda's typical efficiency. For 2015, however, the company has done some things to the vehicle that really rubbed me the wrong way. Oh, sure, it'll probably give you bulletproof service for a long, long time, but you can find less annoying vehicles. For now, anyway. more...
On a more positive note, the Honda Civic coupe (click the image to open a slide show) is a heckuva great little car - even (and here I duck so lightning doesn't strike me down) with its new CVT.
Yessiree! While you can order your 2014 Civic coupe with a five speed manual that, if it's like the rest of Honda's manuals, is undoubtedly a peach, the automatic offered now is a CVT (continuously variable transmission) - a technology I usually despise because it's usually loud and whiny and sucks the joy out of the driving experience. And why else would you buy a Civic coupe other than to get a great little car that's great to drive on a budget?
But here, just as with the CVT Toyota has put on its new Corolla, the transmission just works and works well. Sure, it feels like a CVT when you're driving along normally, but it's quiet - so quiet I had to pay closer attention to it to see that it was, indeed, a CVT. more...
How good is Honda's new Accord hybrid? It's so good I kept forgetting (well, almost) that it's a hybrid!
To be such a compelling hybrid to drive that you can think of it as just a great car, not just a great hybrid, is quite the accomplishment for a mainstream car. I can think of a few others - the VW Jetta hybrid and some higher end ones, for example - but Honda's "electricized" Accord is definitely in select company.
Even its CVT fails to be annoying, and the Accord is the only hybrid I can think of about which I can say that. more...
Small cars are practical and efficient, usually, but many people like a sense of fun in their wheels as well. This led to the "hot hatch" category, as well as a number of sporty cars that weld shut the rear doors in the hope of adding some of that elusive fun.
So we have the subjects of this piece, Ford's little hot hatch Fiesta ST and Honda's reasonably fun little two door Civic - one coupe and one sedan - and despite two doors sometimes translating into more fun than four, it's the most-portaled car that's the hotter of the two. More doors to adore, as it were! more...
Honda's new Accord, at least in sedan form, appears to be taking the market by storm. And there's good reason for this.
Always a best seller, the car copped the Canadian Car of the Year title from the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada after its annual TestFest in 2012 and it's once again listed in Car and Driver magazine's annual 10 best list – for the 27th time.
That's quite an accomplishment and it indicates that the Accord must be quite a car – If media are to be believed (a big IF, indeed!). But it is quite a car. I've had issues with recent Accords – in that the past two generations were dumpy-looking outside and too complicated inside – but I've always liked the car and can see why people buy it. more...
Ninth generation Honda Accord Touring a nice step in both directions
If this new Accord is any indication, it looks as if Honda may be back in the saddle again, and that's a very good thing.
I've been of the opinion that over the past few years the company has either been on automatic pilot (no Honda SUV pun intended) or has gotten complacent, or maybe a tad lazy. Cars I had loved were getting decidedly uninteresting, gadgetry was getting out of hand, and technologically the company was slipping – heck, I don't believe they even offered a direct injection engine until about five minutes ago.
But there are encouraging signs coming out of Honda HQ. more...
Ridgeline stays true to its roots…
I recently spent a week with Honda's Ridgeline, the company's innovative pickup truck that reminds me of the old El Caminos of days long gone by. It's a truck that's more carlike than most trucks, and includes such fantastic innovations as a trunk in the truck bed.
That trunk is very cool, indeed. Heck, I knew someone with a Ridgeline who used the trunk to haul a load of ice and beer to a tailgate party. Now that's innovation!
When it came out, the Ridgeline really appealed to me, seeming like a truck designed for people who don't like or need trucks much – which would be me. A great idea! Alas, the Ridgeline Sport of my Honda Canada tester's livery seems a tad long in the tooth now. Other trucks have caught up in offering "civilized" interiors, yet can also perform more robustly as trucks, an area in which the Ridgeline falls short (depending on what you expect from your truck). Perhaps it's time for a new generation of Ridgeline. more...
Honda Fit gets "Sport" and updated features for 2012
Honda's entry level car comes into the 2012 model year mostly unchanged, but that could be due to the fact that it's a terrific little car already.
The Fit reminds me in many ways of that old Honda Civic that invaded North America back in the 1970's. It has the same fun demeanor, it's definitely a little entry level car, and it shows some pretty nifty thought from the Honda engineers, especially in its terrific rear bench seat. more...
Honda Pilot Meets Mazda CX-9
They're both big, three row SUV/Crossovers, from Japan, and both sell for about the same price. But are they mostly the same, or are they two distinct variations on the theme? Clearly, just to look at the two vehicles you can tell it's the latter, that each of these big family haulers is its own man, so to speak.
The Mazda comes across as, well, "Zoom-Zoom," but it's also more stylish than the rather boxy Pilot – not that beauty is anything other than in the eye of the beholder, of course. The Honda appears clearly as more utility-oriented than the CX-9, with nifty storage areas throughout and a much more "workman-like" mien.
Yet they have so much in common, right down to their "as tested" prices of just over $48,000 Canadian ($48,270 for the Mazda versus $48,520 for the Honda). more...
Honda Civic Coupe – Manual Dexterity
The 2012 Honda Civic Coupe is a great little car, comfortable, efficient and will undoubtedly be long serving for its owners. It also shows how much difference a manual transmission can make if you value a "fun to drive" factor.
I drove the new Civic sedan a few weeks prior to my session with the coupe and, while I liked the car a lot, I didn't like it nearly as much as I liked this coupe version, despite my preference for four doors. The basic difference between the two – besides the door count – was that the sedan was an automatic whilst the coupe was a manual. The manual-equipped coupe changed the way I think about the new Civic and reminded me of all the things I've loved about Civics past, right back to the 1976 two door I owned new. It made that big a difference. more...
Honda Civic 2012 – A New Generation Joins a Crowded Market
Honda's classic Civic is back with a new suit of clothes for 2012, the ninth such makeover since the car came to North America in the 1970's. And it appears Honda has chosen to play it safe with this latest iteration rather than push the envelope.
Nothing necessarily wrong with that, of course, especially since the Civic was a great car already. And there have certainly been copious changes and innovations over the decades since the Civic appeared on these shores as a two door coupe/hatchback. The car has definitely been a success story for Honda, and deservedly so. more...
Honda Civic Still Offers Good Transportation
The 2011 Honda Civic is proof that even a pretty basic car can still offer a decent driving experience.
The Civic, whose 2012 replacement was just introduced at the North American International Auto Show, has been going strong in North America since the mid-1970's. I had a 1976 hatchback for three years and, though it was more like today's Honda Fit than today's Civic, it was a fine car that served us very well. Okay, it rusted out to beat the band, but all Japanese cars did back then – they've come a long way since those days. more...
Next Gen Minivan a Honda You Odyssey
Minivans are the Rodney Dangerfield of the automotive industry: they get no, or little at least, respect. They're not particularly attractive, they're not the most lithe of vehicles nor are they the most subtle.
Still, as far as minivans go, the Honda Odyssey is arguably at the top of the heap and as it turned out Honda made it available to us just as Chateau Bray was descended upon by a Christmas crowd the likes of which we had never seen before. more...
What's New: Toyota Camry LE and Honda CR-Z
One's a new design and one's a respected mainstream car. And while both offer decidedly different driving experiences, they have in common the fact that they both acquit their makers' mandates well.
Toyota's Camry is one of the best-selling cars in North America, and with good reason: it's solid and dependable, comfortable and efficient, and it doesn't beat owners over their heads with a lot of gadgety technology.
Honda's new sporty hybrid CR-Z, on the other hand, is a terrific way to put some fun into the ordeal of driving "greenly" – saving some gas while still offering a lively drive. more...
Honda's Hot New Hybrid a Blast from the Past
Anyone who remembers the Honda CRX fondly will probably find a soft spot in his or her heart for the new CR-Z sport hybrid.
Honda bills the CR-Z as "the world’s first sport hybrid" but, first or not, what really matters is that this is a nifty little car, cute as a bug's ear, fun and efficient – and priced reasonably to boot.
For what more could anyone ask? more...
Acura and Honda "Cute Utes" Provide Good Rides
Whether you go up market or mainstream, the Honda Motor Company has an "entry level" sport utility vehicle they think you'll like. And they may be right. I certainly like both of them.
Not that Honda is alone in this, of course, but its CR-V and Acura RDX are both fine and compelling vehicles with a lot to offer. Choosing between them amounts basically to how much you want to be coddled, how much you want to spend and how sporty you want your vehicle to be. more...
Honda Accord Crosses Over
When is a Honda Accord not an Accord?
Well, if you smashed in the front and rear ends you might call it an "Accordion," but perhaps more relevant is the new Accord Crosstour," a crossover/SUV-type beastie that raises Honda's immensely popular car to new heights.
The rather bulbous-looking Accord Crosstour may be an answer to a question few have asked: How do you make a highly functional, if stylistically-challenged, vehicle even more functional – and stylistically-challenged? Honda has done this by creating a vehicle that works well, is nice to drive and which lets you haul more stuff than you can in a garden variety Accord. more....
Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla Still Good Choices for Economy Cars
I'd forgotten just what great little cars the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla are. What used to be both companies' entry level – and bread and butter – vehicles have grown up over the decades, getting bigger in every way and far more sophisticated. And that isn't a bad thing; technology advances. One thing that hasn't changed, however, is that endearing simplicity and ease of use that Honda once used in its commercials: "We Make It Simple".
Both companies still do, at least in the lower end of the marketplace. And that's great! more....
Focusing on a Ford and a Honda you Really "Odyssey"
"Fun to drive" may not be everyone's priority, but if an everyday vehicle also has some of that factor built in it can certainly make life with it more pleasant. Such is the case with a couple of 2009 vehicles I drove recently that, while nowhere near "all new" or "all fun" are still worth a look if you're shopping for a compact sedan or minivan.
The sedan, the Ford Focus, is a pleasant and well-equipped, if "style-challenged" vehicle that performs better than you might expect considering its niche near the lower end of the market. And the minivan, the 2009 Honda Odyssey, is about as nice a way to haul people and their stuff as you can get. more....
Maybe it can be thought of as a "Post-Prius".
The first Insight was a little two seater with no storage space (no get up and go, either) and which looked a bit like a squashed lady bug. The new one has a definite Prius influence, perhaps so people will know it's a hybrid, unlike Honda's other hybrids (such as the Civic) that look like their gas-only counterparts. It also has some "old Insight" cues, including the taillights and the two section rear window that's nearly horizontal on top and nearly vertical on the bottom. more....
Honda CR-V Update
One's a great example of the "cute ute" genre, and the other's a luxurious and eco-friendly road rocket.
And while neither the Honda CR-V and Lexus GS 450h features major upgrades for 2009, both of them continue to be excellent vehicles in decidedly different niches. I got to some quality time in each vehicle recently, which reaffirmed that both are my favorites of the vehicles I've driven in their respective "cute ute" and "hybrid" markets. more....
Honda's Ridgeline Keeps on Trucking
Who needs a full-sized pickup these days?
Well, many people do, actually. But many people's hauling and towing needs don't require a vehicle larger than some homes, and for them there's a wide variety of smaller-but-still-capable pickups. Honda's entry into this fray is the Ridgeline, a homely but homey vehicle that's not only a pretty capable truck, but which also showcases some nifty innovative thinking. more....
Entry Level Honda a Good Fit
Newly redesigned for 2009, Honda's entry level Fit is a wonderful little car, an excellent choice for people looking to buy in this market niche.
Time was when the Civic occupied this place in the car world but it has grown in size, price and features over the years until now it can no longer be considered alongside today's entry level competitors such as the Hyundai Accent, Toyota Yaris and the like. Rather, it competes with other "growing concerns" such as the Toyota Corolla, Hyundai Elantra, VW Jetta, etc. Indeed, today's Civic is nearly "Lexus-like" compared to those Civics of old. more....
Looking for a Minivan? You Odyssey Honda's!
It may not be the most glamorous segment of the car biz, but minivans are still popular items with people who need the room and flexibility.
And in this niche, the Honda Odyssey is a fine entry, one of if not the best available. more....
2008 Honda Civic Hybrid
What's even better than a garden variety Honda Civic? How about a gas-sipping hybrid?
The hybrid is a straightforward adaptation of Honda's terrific little sedan, with Honda's Integrated Motor Assist system added on for "even greener" performance. more....
Pilot--ing a Straightforward, Unassuming Honda SUV
Though its name may be inspired by the high flying world of aviation, Honda's Pilot SUV is a decidedly down-to-earth vehicle. And though it may come off as a tad bland, it's really just a straightforward, no nonsense imagining of the eight passenger SUV niche. more....
Honda's Accord Reaches a New Level of Refinement
Fresh from an unfortunate uglification process, Honda's 2008 Accord has emerged as a fine new car that'll surely continue the brand's reputation for excellence and innovation.
It's just so darn great to be in, and to drive. more....
Honda CR-V – Reborn with a New Look, New Utility
In the world of "cute utes," Honda's CR-V has traditionally been one of the least cute. That tradition has been maintained in the new generation SUV.
Whether Honda wanted to include an uglification process in its CR-V makeover or not, the Japanese automaker managed to take what had been quite a boxy vehicle and make it boxy with weird-looking rear side windows. Interesting achievement.
And yet, despite any anxiety over its outward appearance, the CR-V remains a fine vehicle, very nice to drive and undoubtedly lovely to live with. It's very straightforward and performs as advertised – and how can that be a bad thing? more....
Once upon a time, back in the 1970's, Honda made waves with its entry level car, the Civic. It was a little two door econobox that promised little more than providing an economical way to get around. And it sold.
That was a long, long time ago. Since then, the Civic itself has evolved steadily,
getting bigger, more fully featured, more technologically advanced - and more
expensive. This left a hole in the market niche once occupied by the Civic,
a place now occupied by such cars as the Toyota Yaris and Hyundai Accent. more....
Honda Civic Hybrid
It isn't as noticeable on the road as Toyota's Prius,
but Honda's new Civic hybrid is a fine little vehicle that
can save you some gas money if you drive it right.
On the other hand, since it looks mostly like the other
versions of the four door Civic, it doesn't make a political
statement the same way the Prius does, so if you're looking
to get noticed for your social responsibility, this may
not be the car for you.
That would be a shame, because this Civic does a nice
job of sipping gas while providing a comfortable and efficient
ride for a family and its stuff. more...
Honda Ridgeline a New Type of Truck
It looks like a truck, acts like a truck, and has a truck’s
utility. But it’s a Honda. What gives?
Honda calls its Ridgeline a new type of truck, and it’s
hard to argue with that assessment. Who, after all, has seen
a truck that comes with a trunk? Or the type of “magic
that used to be a standard fixture on North American station
wagons of the 1960’s, opening either sideways or down
in the traditional way, depending upon which latch you use?
Honda's Sporty Accord
Coupe a Comfortable Rocket
The Honda Accord has consistently been one of the top selling
cars in North America. Having driven the newest generation's
four door sedan version several months ago, it isn't hard
to see why.
It's an excellent vehicle, refined and with terrific comfort
and performance. It's a tad dumpy-looking to these eyes,
however - not that that's the most important thing about
a car. Usually a new Accord strikes me as ugly, then grows
on me; this one has done the opposite. more...
Hondas top-selling Accord has received a rejuvenation
for 2003 thats destined to keep the car at the top
of the charts.
Now, I must admit that the last time I drove a Honda Accord
was many many years ago when I took the first generation
of the car out for a test drive. That Accord was fine; I
owned a 76 Civic hatchback in those days and the Accord
was more of the same, just Super Sized a bit.
Honda Element - Putting the
Box Back in the Econobox
Well, it appears that even Honda can have an off day.
The companys new crossover vehicle is, if nothing
else, unique and interesting, but whether or not its
a success remains to be seen. As of this writing the Element
is still new enough that not many have been seen on the roads
around our world headquarters - and believe me, with the
way this thing looks wed notice it if it were there!
That doesnt mean it wont sell, of course, and
being a Honda it probably will. And it will undoubtedly please
its owners. more...
Honda Civic SiR - To SiR, with Love
When pondering cars with a high fun to drive quotient,
one doesnt normally think of the Honda Civic. After
all, while the Civic is a fine car, its focus is on economy
and practicality, not
Unless one looks at the Honda Civic SiR (which is
comparable to the Si model in the US), which
is not your average Civic. Starting at about $26,000 Cdn
(the Si starts at about $19,000US) the SiR is a stylish three
door hatchback whose sleek body looks almost extruded in
one piece to maximize aerodynamics. It also comes with a
bigger engine and larger wheels than the garden variety Civic
sedan or coupe. more...
The second generation of Honda's popular CR-V is definitely
an easy vehicle to live with.
And, while it isn't the most handsome SUV there is, it has
enough inner beauty to almost make you forget about its relatively
CR-V fits into the car-based "cute ute" category that also
includes SUV's like Toyota's RAV4 and the Hyundai Santa fe.
It's comfortable for four passengers, fits five without undue
fuss, and is probably nearly perfect for the suburban family
that wants roomy and safe transportation but which doesn't
plan to do a lot of heavy duty off roading. more...
Honda Civic Coupe Offers Sporty Feel
If the roly-poly Honda Civic sedan is too sedate for you,
why not go for the Coupe de grace?
The Civic Coupe is the more sporty of the two models, but
don't confuse its two door lines with sport performance.
Granted, it's a lot cooler looking than the sedan, but it's
basically the same car inside.
Not that that's a bad thing! more...
Hybrid Honda Helps Do Civic Duty
The Hybrid automobile has definitely arrived, if you dont
mind paying the price.
Hondas Insight was the first mainstream hybrid
car to hit the market, a technological tour de force that
blended the gas internal combustion engine with an electric
motor to provide extra oomph. Unfortunately, the Insight
was mostly impractical except as a novelty or as a commuter
car, thanks to its two seat configuration and lack of storage
Insight: Hondas Happy,
High Tech Hybrid
Hondas most politically correct vehicle is a marvelous
commuter car thats cheap to run and environmentally
friendly to boot.
The Insight is a hybrid
automobile that pairs a conventional though very high
gasoline engine with an electric motor to provide what power
Blistering performance isnt this cars reason
for being; its the fuel economy.
The secret to the front wheel drive Insight is something
called Integrated Motor Assist,
which couples Hondas all-new VTEC-E 1.0 liter, 3-cylinder
engine with an electric motor that seems to act almost like
a turbocharger, in that it comes on as a boost when the car
thinks you need an extra bit of oomph. more...
Doing Civic Duty with Honda
New for 2001, the Honda Civics seventh generation
feels like more than an entry level car.
I first drove the Civic in 1976. In fact, I owned one and
it was a wonderful little car for 48.000 miles. By then,
however, the front fenders had pretty well rusted away and
at 48001 miles it seemed the Civic was telling us in no uncertain
terms that it was retiring and went from being wholly dependable
to, shall we say, an interesting driving experience.
That was back in the comparatively early days of Japanese
cars, however, and a lot has changed since then. Todays
Hondas are world class vehicles that can match their quality
and technology against anyones, and this Civic is a
prime example of that. more...